On August 17, Cat Nights Begin, harking back to a rather obscure Irish legend concerning witches; this bit of folklore also led to the idea that a cat has nine lives.
The term Cat Nights refers to a rather obscure old Irish legend concerning witches and the belief that a witch could turn herself into a cat eight times, but on the ninth time (August 17), she couldn’t regain her human form, thus remaining a cat forever.
This bit of folklore also gives us the saying, “A cat has nine lives.”
Because August is a yowly time for cats, this may have prompted the speculation about witches on the prowl in the first place.
Here’s a poem in honor of Cat Nights:
By old Irish lore
on the 17th of August
more cats are among us
than ever before.
It is said that witches
can turn into a cat.
But no more than eight switches
as a matter of fact.
On the ninth switch
they cannot regain
their life as a witch.
A cat they must remain.
So if in mid August
you should hear the cats yowl
amongst sounds of the locust
when cats are on the prowl
Then you will know
as lore was told over time
that cats will show
lives as many as nine.
By V. Neumann
Found at: The Old Farmer’s Almanac
What follows is a list (in alphabetical order) of the names given to the August moon. Also listed is the tradition and/or origin of that moon name:
Acorns Ripen Moon ~Maidu
Autumn Moon ~Taos
Barley Moon ~other
Berry Moon ~Anishnaabe
Big Harvest Moon ~Creek
Big Ripening Moon ~Creek
Blackberry Moon ~Wishram
Black Cherries Moon ~Sioux, Assiniboine
Corn Moon ~Medieval English
Corn Silk Moon ~Ponca
Cutter Moon ~Abernaki
Dispute Moon ~Celtic, Janic (full)
Dog Days Moon ~Yuchi, Colonial American, Algonquin
Drying Moon ~Cherokee
Edible Corn Moon ~Agonquin
Feather Shedding Moon ~Passamaquoddy
First Acorns ~Pomo
Freshness Moon ~Mohawk
Fruit Moon ~Cherokee
Geese Shedding Feathers Moon ~Arapaho
Grain Moon ~Cherokee
Green Corn Moon ~Algonquin
Harvest Moon ~Chinese, Janic (dark)
Heat Moon ~Creek
Joyful Moon ~Hopi
Last Fruit Moon ~Cherokee
Lightning Moon ~Neo Pagan
Middle Moon ~Potawatomi
Mulberries Moon ~Natchez
Red Moon ~Algonquin
Ripen Moon ~Dakota
Sturgeon Moon ~Algonquin
Yellow Flower Moon ~Osage
Yellow Leaves Moon ~Kiowa
Young Ducks Fly Moon ~Cree
Wheat Cut Moon ~San Juan
Women’s Moon ~Choctaw
Wood Cutter’s Moon ~Algonquin
Wort Moon ~Medieval English
Wyrt Moon ~other
July 10th is Lady Godiva Day. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the story – but here it is again:
The Countess Godiva devoutly anxious to free the city of Coventry from a grievous and base thralldom often besought the Count, her husband, that he would for love of the Holy Trinity and the sacred Mother of God liberate it from such servitude. But he rebuked her for vainly demanding a thing so injurious to himself and forbade her to move further therin.
Yet she, out of her womanly pertinacity, continued to press the matter insomuch that she obtained this answer from him: “Ascend,” he said, “thy horse naked and pass thus through the city from one end to the other in sight of the people and on thy return thou shalt obtain thy request.”
Upon which she returned: “And should I be willing to do this, wilt thou give me leave?”
“I will,” he responded.
Then the Countess Godiva, beloved of God, ascended her horse, naked, loosing her long hair which clothed her entire body except her snow white legs, and having performed the journey, seen by none, returned with joy to her husband who, regarding it as a miracle, thereupon granted Coventry a Charter, confirming it with his seal.
From the Flores Historiarum by Roger of Wendover
The original Roman name for this month was Junoius, after the Great Mother Goddess Juno; her counterpart among the Greeks was Hera. The Summer Solstice has been and still is important to many religions and cultures around the world. Not only was it sacred to goddesses of fertility, marriage, and love, but it was considered to be a time when faeries, elves, and many other supernatural beings were abroad in great numbers.
June’s energies are focused on socialization and activity. It is a capricious month, filled with young love, romance, and the companionship of good friends. Any magic aimed at enhancing one’s relationships, communication skills, and the personal energy level necessary for maintaining both will be augmented by working during this month.
The June Moon has enormous energies for calling upon and working with elementals of all types. Tides of psychic energy flow freely, enabling even the most staid of people to experience unusual happenings.
On or about 21 June is the Summer Solstice, the festival of Midsummer, the Anglo-Saxon Lith and the Alaban Hefin of the Druids. The Irish name for June is Meitheamh, while the Anglo-Saxon name was Aerra Litha, “before Litha.” The Franks called June Brachmanoth, “break month,” while in modern Asatru it is called Fallow.
The Summer Solstice festival in Slavonic-Russian cultures was called Kupalo and Jarilo. Other names were Kostroma, Sobotka, Kresnice, and Vajano. Kupalo/Kupala was the name of an ancient Slavic deity, originally a goddess, later a god. Special features of this festival were the lighting of fires, the sprinkling of water, and foretelling the future.
The Full Moon festival of Edfu in Egypt honored the goddess Hathor. The cow horns on her head represented the Crescent Moon. Every year at the new Moon the stature of Hathor was taken from her temple at Dendera and transported by boat to the temple of the god Horus at Edfu, arriving on the Full Moon.l This festival celebrated the frank sexual union of the two deities. It was a time of great festivities and very likely human marriages, since it was considered a period of good luck.
The Egyptian festival called the Burning of the Lamps took place in Sais in the temple of Isis. There, in an underground chapel beneath the main temple, was a wooden coffin for the god Osiris. Priestesses, priests, and initiates gathered in this hidden place carrying lamps. Then they marched in a procession around the coffin. The Egyptians said it was the light of the Moon that Isis called upon to bring Osiris back to life. Myth says that when Osiris ascended to the heavens, he went to the Moon.
In Rome, the month of June was sacred to the goddess Juno and therefore a lucky month in which to be married. It was also a time for the Vestal Virgins to cleanse the penus (a sacred vessel) in the Temple of Vesta.
The Roman celebration of the Ludi Piscatari, or festival of the fishermen, was really a blessing of boats. They believed that every boat had a personal spiritual entity. If the powers that went into the boat during its building were not in harmony with the entity, the boat would never ride easily on the water; it would always fight with the wind and the waves. The ritual of blessing the boat harmonized the energies imbued in the vessel, making it lively, willing, and enduring.
The Celtic Day of Cerridwen and her cauldron may have originally been associated with the Summer Solstice. Cerridwen of Wales was a Dark Moon goddess; her symbols were the cauldron, grain, and the Moon. The white, corpse-eating sow, representing the Moon, was one of her animal emblems.
In Tibet, this was a time of masked sacred dances and mystery plays. They had celebrations of the Medical Buddhas and of the Birth of Padmasambhava, who was considered to be a great spiritual teacher.
To the Incas in the Southern Hemisphere, this was the season of the Winter Solstice, since seasons are reversed. They had the Feast of the Sun, or the Inti Raymi, to celebrate the maize harvest. Chanting would last from sunrise to sunset. Inti was the Sun god of the ruling dynasty, represented by a great golden disk with a human face.
As ruler of the high point of the year, the time of the maximum light and minimum darkness, June is the light counterpart of Janus, the ruler of the New Year period. In the Goddess Calendar, the first 12 days of June belong to Hera. On 13 June begins the month of Rosea.
The month of June is the “door of the year,” the gateway to the inner realms. The rune Dag that rules the middle of the month, is the rune of opening, representing the door that excludes bad things and admits only that which is beneficial. The runic year begins in June, with Feoh.
The Celtic Tree Calendar month of Huath (hawthorn) ends on 9 June to be followed on the 10th by the Oak month, Duir. This is a month of strengthening and consolidation of gains. It can also be said to represent the “door” of the year, opening to let the sun shine in. Duir had the sacred color of black.
From: Moon Magick and other sources
“What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.” ~Gertrude Jekyl
June takes its name from Juno, the Roman goddess of the hearth and home, and patron wives.. Not surprisingly, June became the traditional month for marriage in Rome, and it continues to enjoy tremendous popularity for weddings today.
Married in the month of roses – June.
Life will be one long honeymoon.
In medieval times June was chosen for the month to marry because the annual baths of the populace took place in May. From May to the following May cleanliness was not a part of their daily ritual as it is today. It was an annual event. So, being that they were relatively clean in June made it a good time to have a special event such as a wedding.
June is also the favored month for flower festivals, likely due to the abundance of earth’s blossoms around this time of year. Other associations include the following:
- Flower: Rose and Honeysuckle
- Meaning: Health and longevity
- Gemstone: Pearl, Moonstone, and Alexandrite
Another precious stone associated with June is the agate, whose traditional rhyme is as follows:
Who comes with summer to this earth,
And owes to June her hour of birth
With ring of Agate on her hand
Can health, wealth and long life command.
June is named after the Roman Great Mother Goddess, Juno; the Greek Hera. The month’s name was originally Junonius. Juno has may attributes, the chief of which is as the Queen of Heaven. This is attribute is ascribed to Frigg in the Northern Tradition and Mary in the Christian.
June has been considered a lucky month since Roman times. As Juno Moneta, guardian of money and wealth, the goddess had a temple dedicated to her on the Capitoline hill in Rome. This contained the mint where coinage was produced. This theme of wealth can also be seen in the runic year cycle: the half-month of Feoh, the time of wealth and abundance, begins on 29 June.
A man who married in June was guaranteed prosperity, and his wife happiness. This was because the Goddess Juno was associated with money and wealth, and also because she was happily married to Jupiter.
Whenever anyone got married in her month, Juno ensured the union was blessed with great happiness. June also has the longest day of the year, and this symbolizes a long and happy marriage.
June’s full moon is sometimes called the Hot or Strawberry Moon.
For the purpose of your magical escapades, the theme is definitely blossoming and liveliness. Use as many flower parts as possible in spells and rituals, and go outside frequently to get closer to nature. Energies emphasized by this month include creativity, inventiveness, fertility, health, and metaphysically “spring cleaning” any area of your life or sacred space.
Bring me my drum and bring me my cymbal,
Bring forth the sustrum, bring forth the timbal.
Dance now for Hathor, celebrate beauty,
dance in Her honor, sing for our lady.
May gets its name from the Roman goddess Maia, who embodies the earth’s renewal during spring. Next to New Year’s Eve, May Day was among the most popular holidays in the old world, marking the time when the sun’s warmth and nature’s fertility began appearing in the land. Later, well over one hundred nations chose to celebrate Labor Day on May 1, giving everyone a much-needed rest from winter’s tasks.
The Greek goddess Maia, the most important of the Seven Sisters (the Pleiades) and said to be the mother of Hermes, gave the name to this month. Some form of this goddess’s name was known to people from Ireland to as far away as India. The Romans called her Maius, goddess of Summer and honored her at the Ambarvalia, a family festival for purification and protection of farm land.
In the Celtic cultures, May was called Mai or Maj, a month of sexual freedom. Green was worn during this month to honor the Earth Mother. May 1 was the Celtic festival of Beltane, a festival celebrating fertility of all things. Cattle were drivien through the Beltane bonfires for purification and fertility. In Wales, Creiddylad was connected with this festival and often called the May Queen. The maypole and its dance is a remnant of these old festivities.
The Sheila Na Gig is still seen carved in the decorations of many Irish churches. This goddess figure is a grotesque, often emaciated, woman shown squatting and holding wide her private parts. Many Irish still know her as the protector of the poor and hang old clothes on hawthorn bushes on May 4th. This is believed to avert poverty. It is possible that the Australian term “Sheila,” used as a name for any woman, refers to this ancient deity and her carvings.
Bona Dea, the Roman Good Goddess, had her festival on the night between may 2nd and 3rd. No men were allowed to attend.
The Roman festival of Lemuria was to placate and remember the Lemures, or the wandering spirits of the dead. Each family performed its own private ceremonies, which ended with taking gifts to the graves. For those who had died and had no graves, the head of the household walked barefoot through the house, casting nine black beans behind him.
The Greeks had a special festival for the god Pan during May. Pan was a wild looking deity, half man, half goat. As a token of his frequent sexual adventures, he was shown with an erect penis. Pan invented the syrinx, or pan-pipes, made out of reeds. Originally, he was not an oppressor of women, but their loving companion.
May 19-28 was the solemn Greek festival called Kallyntaria and Plynteria. This was devoted to the cleaning and freshening of sacred statures and temples. The statues, small enough to be moved, were taken to a nearby river or lake and washed until clean. This was serious business with no singing or merry-making.
At the end of the month was a Roman celebration honoring the Underworld Queen Prosperina and her consort Pluto. Proserpina ruled over the resting place of the shades (souls), but her kingdom was connected with more than death. Pluto was also known as the deity of hidden wealth.
In Finland, May 1 was celebrated as Rowan Witch Day, a time of honoring the goddess Rauni, who was associated with the mountain ash or rowan. Twigs and branches of the rowan were, and still are, used as protection against evil in this part of the world. Some sources list Rauni as a god.
The Slavonic-Russian cultures had a similar, but longer, festival celebrating merriment, rivers, and well-being. This occured between May 25 and June 25. Originally it honored the goddess Lada, who later was changed to the god Lado.
Mugwort was a sacred herb in China and Europe. As part of the celebration on May 5, the Chinese made dolls out of the leaves. They hung these dolls above gates and doors to repel negative influences and entities.
In Tibet, an old Nature festival for the beginning of Summer and the rain deities became a celebration of Buddha’s death and his attainment of Buddha-hood. The attainment festival occurred on May 8, while celebration of Buddha’s death was on May 15. Deceased relatives were prayed for at this time.
The Incas held Aymoray Quilla or Hatun Cazqui, which was the Great Cultivation.
From: Moon Magick
What follows is a list (in alphabetical order) of the names given to the May moon. Also listed is the tradition and/or origin of that moon name:
Alewive Moon ~Passamaquoddy
Big Leaf Moon ~Mohawk
Blossom Moon ~Anishnaabe
Bright Moon ~Celtic
Corn Planting Moon ~Taos, Algonquin
Corn Weed Moon ~Agonquin
Dyad Moon ~other
Fat Horses Moon ~Cheyenne
Field Maker Moon ~Abernaki
Flower Moon ~other
Frog Moon ~Cree
Frogs Return Moon ~other
Grass Moon ~Neo Pagan
Green Leaf Moon ~Apache
Green Leaves Moon ~Dakota
Hare Moon ~Medieval English
Hoeing Corn Moon ~Winnebago
Idle Moon ~Assiniboine
Joy Moon ~other
Leaf Tender Moon ~San Juan
Little Corn Moon ~Natchez
Merry Moon ~other
Milk Moon ~Colonial American, Algonquin
Mothers Moon ~Janic (full)
Mulberry Moon ~Greek
Ninth Moon ~Wishram, Janic (dark)
Panther Moon ~Choctaw
Planting Moon ~Cherokee
Ponies Shed Moon ~Sioux
Shaggy Hair Moon ~Arapaho
Sproutkale Moon ~other
Strawberry Moon ~Potawatomi
Waiting Moon ~Hopi
What follows is a list (in alphabetical order) of the names given to the April moon. Also listed is the tradition and/or origin of that moon name:
Ashes Moon ~Taos
Awakening Moon ~Neo Pagan
Big Leaves Moon ~Apache
Big Spring Moon ~Creek, Cree
Broken Snow Shoe Moon ~Anishnaabe
Budding Moon ~Mohawk
Corn Planting Moon ~Winnebago
Egg Moon ~Cherokee, Algonquin
Eostre Moon ~other
Fish Moon ~Algonquin
Flowers Moon ~Pomo, Cherokee
Frog Moon ~Assiniboine, Janic
Geese Egg Moon ~Cheyenne
Geese Return Moon ~Dakota
Grass Moon ~other
Gray Goose Moon ~Cree
Green Grass Moon ~Sioux
Growing Moon ~Celtic
Hare Moon ~other
Ice Breaking Moon ~Arapaho
Indian Corn Moon ~Algonquin
Leaf Moon ~Kiowa
Leaf Split Moon ~San Juan
Ostarmanoth Moon ~Old English
Pink Moon ~Algonquin
Planter’s Moon ~Colonial American, Algonquin
Red Grass Moon ~other
Seed Moon ~Medieval English
Sprouting Grass Moon ~Algonquin
Spring Moon ~Passamaquoddy
Strawberry Moon ~Natchez
Sugar Maker Moon ~Abernaki
Wildcat Moon ~Choctaw
Wind Breaks Moon ~Hopi
Yellow Moon ~Pima
This month was sacred to the Roman god Mars, hence the name March. Mars is similar to the Greek Ares, Tiu or Twaz of Central and Northern Europe, Teutates of the Celts, and Tyr of the Norse. The Roman goddess Bellona, goddess of war, had her special day during this month.
March is generally a blustery month weather-wise. The old weather saying “In like a lion, out like a lamb” is an apt description of March weather. For the Romans, it was the beginning of their year. The Spring Equinox, which falls around March 21 or 22, was a sacred and celebrated time in a great many world cultures. In the Southern Hemisphere, this would be equal to the Autumn Equinox, as the seasons are reversed. The Incas celebrated Pacha-puchy, or Earth Ripening, at this time.
The Roman Matronalia honored Juno Lucina, an aspect of the goddess Juno, who protected women, children and the family. Statues of the goddess were decorated with flowers, and special temple fires were lit. Girls made offerings to Juno Lucina at this time of year for happy and prosperous marriages.
The statue of Isis suckling her child symbolizes this goddess’s aspect as the Great Mother, the caretaker of the Earth and all life. Flowers were floated on the rivers and the boats blessed with incense.
In Canaan and other Semitic countries, the goddess Astarte was honored in a Spring celebration. Red eggs were given as gifts to family and friends, the beginning of our Easter egg tradition. Her sacred city of Byblos was noted for its extensive libraries before they were destroyed. As queen of heaven, Astarte wore crescent horns and was said to tirelessly create and destroy. The kings of Sidon ruled only with the goddess’s permission and called themselves the Priest of Astarte. Other cultures in the Middle East knew Astarte as Asherat of the Sea and Astart, queen of heaven.
Athene/Minerva,the armed goddess of wisdom,reigned over the biggest social event in Greece – the five day Spring competition featuring events in athletics, music, poetry and satire. Crowns of olive branches and flasks of olive oil were given to the winners of each event. On the final day, Athene’s birth was celebrated by draping the goddess’s statue in a new sacred garment.
This particular festival of Cybele, the Hilaria, was a happy time. Our word “hilarious” has similar word roots. The goddess Cybele can be compared to Demeter in many ways; Cybele represented the Earth as did Demeter and had a Spring resurrected son/lover Attis, who corresponded to Kore/Persephone. This happy festival celebrated the power of Cybele to overcome death.
Eostre was the German goddess of rebirth. Rabbits and colored eggs were fertility symbols connected with Her. Originally, Oestre was the goddess of the Spring Equinox whose name was changed to Easter by the Christians.
The Roman Luna, goddess of the Moon, was honored with the baking, exchanging, and eating of Moon cakes. Even the Chinese and Europeans knew of Moon cakes and some form of this goddess.
From: Moon Magick
I found this account of Mother March in an old book about Bulgaria, published in 1877. I love the way they used to celebrate the month of March. It occurs to me that it might be fun and informative to watch the weather this month and assign certain days to certain people and see what happens.
The month of March, which falls in the Spring equinox is called by the Bulgarians, Baba Mart, Old Mother March, and is the only female month of the year, the others being considered as masculine. March in Bulgaria is like April in England, inconstant and capricious, alternating between storms and sunshine; and it is here specially dedicated to the fair sex, who during its continuance enjoy complete idleness, doing no work, and asserting a sort of temporary superiority over their husbands, which sometimes even goes to the length of administering a thrashing, without fear of reprisal.
In order not to displease Baba Mart, the women do not even smear the floors of their houses with clay (a work which is usually performed every week), wash, weave, or spin; for if they were to do so Baba Mart would give no rain during the year, and lightning would infallibly strike the house in which she had been thus insulted.
There are certain clever old women who, knowing where Baba Mart resides, pay her a visit, and from her information assign to each of the married women a day of the month on which the weather will be according to the character of the lady whose day it is; thus, if Mrs. Dimitri gets the 1st of March, it will be fine, with perhaps a warm and gentle shower or two, for she is an amiable and soft-hearted woman, a little give to shedding unnecessary tears upon any pretext. Mrs. Tanaz is a loud-voiced shrew, so her day will be made up of wind, black clouds, snow, and heavy rain. “Don’t go out shooting tomorrow, Chelibi, for it is the day of Kodja Keraz’s wife, and she has such an awful temper that the weather is sure to be horrible.”
When a woman is assigned a day for the first time, her character is judged by the state of the weather; fortunately this system is not extended to young ladies on their promotion, or many a match might be broken off by an inopportune storm in the month of March.